Season of Docs is Google’s annual program that fosters collaboration between open source projects and technical writers. Mattermost greatly enjoyed participating in the inaugural Season of Docs in 2019, and gained a very valuable contributor who provided us with an incredible amount of expertise and knowledge. You can read more about our experience in our recent blog post.
The intention of Google Season of Docs is to pair technical writers with open source mentors, introduce the technical writer to an open source community, and provide guidance while the writer works on a real world open source project. The technical writer in turn provides documentation expertise to the open source organization.
For many writers, it’s their first experience with open source documentation writing, which also provides the organization with a fresh perspective of their existing workflows and potential blindspots. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Mattermost’s mission is to make the world safer and more productive by developing and delivering secure, open source collaboration software that is trusted, flexible and offers fast time-to-value. As part of that mission, we strive to create documentation that sets customers up for success, and provides immediate value.
In line with that, our focus this year is on two areas that are closely aligned with two of our core values: Customer obsession and high impact output.
The first area is information organization in our Overview, User, and Admin guides. More specifically, the organization of our existing content into topics, tasks, and high impact features while still being accessible to our open source community. This focus area includes the development of a terminology guide.
The second area is readability and clarity. For this area, we’re looking to work with a writer to identify ways to reorganize our content in line with UX/UI guidelines and increase the ability to locate relevant information within each page by developing accurate and refined searchable content.
Season of Docs is not a recruiting program or an internship but it does provide an invaluable experience and looks great on a resume!
How To Participate?
Starting from May 11 2020 you can see the list of participating open source organizations on the Season of Docs website at g.co/seasonofdocs. The application period for technical writers opens on June 9, 2020 and ends on July 9, 2020.
As part of your application, you get to review all the projects proposed and pick one that excites you. To pique your interest and get a feel for what you’d be working on with Mattermost take a look at our project proposals below.
Mattermost Project Ideas
Mattermost Documentation Information Architecture
Mentors: Justine Geffen - Technical Product Writer (@justinegeffen), supported by Product Management team.
Mattermost’s key principle is Customer Obsession - we exist to make customers successful. A key resource for customers’ success with our product is our documentation covering all aspects of Mattermost.
This exciting opportunity involves maximizing customer success and providing a delightful experience of https://docs.mattermost.com by refining the relevance and accuracy of the content.
You’ll be working with the Product, Technical Writing, and Publishing teams with access to information around customer satisfaction with the current documentation, pain-points, the impact that refinements and changes have on addressing these pain-points, as well as guidance around what we define as “success”.
This project’s focus is on creating a topic-based content structure, and refining section titles in order to help guide our customers through the documentation in a more structured way.
Mattermost Product Documentation Terminology Guide
Mentor: Justine Geffen - Technical Product Writer (@justinegeffen), supported by Product Management and Marketing teams
Terminology within our product documentation is often not aligned and the creation of a clear and concise guide across all our technical product and feature content will improve the customer experience massively.
Working with the Product, Technical Writing, and Marketing teams you’ll define Mattermost product terminology and assist with auditing and implementing the change across the documentation. Examples of the type of work involved would be determining naming conventions (such as whether a Mattermost deployment is called a “server” or an “installation”, whether we refer to “desktop app” or “Desktop App”, and so on) and working with the supporting teams to drive the recommendations and implementation.
This opportunity will ensure that our customers have access to consistent documentation that is instantly understandable with clear terminology across the board. The long-term effect of this project will be immeasurable, as it will support effective and cohesive content going forward.
Mentor: Justine Geffen - Technical Product Writer (@justinegeffen), supported by Product Management and UX teams
For this area, we’re looking to work with a writer to identify ways to reorganize our content in line with accepted UX/UI principles around readability, information architecture, and how to maximize accurate results when performing searches within our overall content and on each page.
Ideas that can be explored include creating an overall template for documentation with additional templates for different feature areas of Mattermost, as well as the creation of a standard around introducing overviews, summaries, keywords, and formatting.
You’ll be working with the Product, Technical Writing, and UX teams to bring together all aspects and principles of usability, as well as providing a framework around search best practices.
Developer Contributor Journey
Mentors: Jason Blais (@jason.blais) with support from the Engineering teams.
As you begin your exploration into open source contributions, examine the journey through the eyes of our developer contributor audience (https://developers.mattermost.com/contribute/getting-started/). Help us improve our getting started information and work with our Product, Technical Writing, and Development teams to add crucial information to the specific technology sections so that developers are armed with knowledge on how existing systems work when they begin coding.
Other areas that can be explored include increasing empowerment via better contribution frameworks, decreasing the time it takes from expressing interest to submitting a first PR, and decreasing the time taken to review and publish new content.